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Searching For Christmas: Is Your PPC Strategy Ready for Santa?11 min read

11 min read

[vc_row][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_raw_html]JTNDZGl2JTIwY2xhc3MlM0QlMjJhZGR0aGlzX3Rvb2xib3glMjBhZGR0aGlzX2RlZmF1bHRfc3R5bGUlMjBhZGR0aGlzXzMyeDMyX3N0eWxlJTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGZGl2JTNFJTBBJTNDc2NyaXB0JTNFJTJGJTJGJTIwJTNDJTIxJTVCQ0RBVEElNUIlMEF2YXIlMjBhZGR0aGlzX2NvbmZpZyUyMCUzRCUyMCU3QiUyMmRhdGFfdHJhY2tfYWRkcmVzc2JhciUyMiUzQXRydWUlN0QlM0IlMEElMkYlMkYlMjAlNUQlNUQlM0UlM0MlMkZzY3JpcHQlM0UlMEElM0NzY3JpcHQlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjIlMkYlMkZzNy5hZGR0aGlzLmNvbSUyRmpzJTJGMzAwJTJGYWRkdGhpc193aWRnZXQuanMlMjNwdWJpZCUzRHJhLTUzOTFmZmZjNjI0Mzk1NjclMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZzY3JpcHQlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][text_output]Search, like too much whisky, is not just for Christmas. Search strategies, during this peak in demand, are an art form requiring a huge amount of science.

Here’s our guide to getting things into shape before the main event, with thoughts on what is going to shift the dial for clients and how can we focus our marketing efforts onto the audience more effectively.

Getting started

Christmas is only 4 weekends away and for e-commerce providers, in a perfect world, months ago was the time to get your accounts into shape – we all want to hit the New Year fighting fit.

Google insights are predicting a whopping 40% of the whole years sales happening in the run up to Christmas.

Preparing just for Christmas and the New Year isn’t enough; the first key dates for your diaries are Black, or now slightly Grey Friday, the 28th of November and Cyber Monday December the 1st. Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year having ranked number one for spend in the last 4 years straight.

The below screenshot from Argos which has been live for months gives you a snapshot of what you will be competing against – sales and bargains galore!! Think exclusive discounts and offers as a great starting point.[/text_output][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”5158″][text_output]So where do you, as an advertiser start? We’ve put together a list of key initiatives to get ticked off over the coming weeks.

Offer Free Delivery

  • You can be sure your competitors will
  • Some interesting stats from Google state that 73% of customers list free delivery as critical, with a further 49% abandoning the checkout process because of unforeseen or mounting delivery costs
  • If you do offer free delivery, push it through all mediums in which you are active – Croud has seen a substantial uplift in CTR as a result of free delivery messaging across Search, Display, GSP and more

I Don’t Like Monday’s

  • Monday’s are the biggest day for retail clients in the majority of verticals in terms of impressions, clicks and sales
  • Optimise your campaigns so you are prepared for the increased competition
  • Think about promotion strategies to maximise performance on these days

Improve Your Checkout Process

  • The latest stats show that 98% of people don’t convert
  • Shopping basket abandonment makes for some sobering reading; 69% (2011), 72% (2012) and 74% (2013) of shopping baskets are lost due to poor user experience
  • eConsultancy suggest that every £1 spent on improving user experience generates £6 in revenue – what are you waiting for?

Checkout Improvement: What Are The Best Easy Options?

  • Think about using Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer or one of the many other tech providers to see what the data tells you
  • Use an agency, always the best option without in-house skills, if you want hand holding through the process or need help with areas like tech or design
  • Or a couple of nice tools to consider. What Users Do  is a really useful tool that everyone can benefit from using, if you have £10k available, or someone like Inspectlet which lets you view exactly what shoppers do according to their material as if you are looking over their shoulders!

Checkout Improvement: What Else Can You Do?

  • The most obvious is re-targeting – if you’re not doing this, where have you been for the last few years – absolutely key for every advertiser!

Re-targeting lists for Search Ads needs a whole section of it’s own!

RLSA – The Initiative From Google Has Been Game Changing

Remarketing Lists For Search Ads are a proven resounding success. Google are quoting average CPA savings of 48% in travel, 46% in retail and 42% in Finance – altogether a pretty phenomenal success – and at Croud we have seen results even greater than this!

What does RLSA allow you do? Little more than customise ads based on a users past actions on your site, it might not seem like much but here’s a few ways you can use this information.[/text_output][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”5160″][text_output]A few simple examples are below:

  • Prior visitors that started the shopping cart process can still be converted in subsequent searches
  • Use RLSA to highlight compelling promotions for shopping cart abandoners – 5% off for the next day – 10% of for the following 7 days – or send only these users to a landing page with a time limited deal to encourage transaction completion
  • Tailor ads specifically for current clients, or for non-paying subscribers or those that aren’t!
  • Selectively reach and/or upsell “free trial” or “basic service” customers with RLSA to show them tailored ads offering special deals on the paid (or full-service) versions of your product – not wasting any spend on those that have already registered
  • Selectively cross-sell existing customers with RLSA. For example, cross-sell handbags, shoes and jewellery to those that have bought dresses
  • Google’s RLSA product allows you to de-market people that you don’t want to spend money on – surprisingly for Google this allows you to stop wasting budget on consumers that have already signed up, made a payment or subscribed
  • For example if you are a dating site for which December and January are also the key peak times you can decide to not show paid for ads to those that are doing navigational searches every day to check if they have new matches or dates – as a marketer charged with delivering as many new registrations as possible by your board with every £ or $ spent; the cost per registration has just decreased significantly!

RLSA For Customer Loyalty And Profiling

  • Remind subscribers to renew
  • Promote loyalty programs to prior purchasers who haven’t joined your program yet
  • Reward your loyal customers with exclusive offers like “Friends and Family” discounts or early access to sales and events
  • Focus on those most valuable
  • Utilise Demographic for search, as well as user traits to determine who is most valuable and who is least valuable – know your audience – and target your customers accordingly!
  • Think about demographics – Have women 55+ that have visited your site before? CPC Bid +200%. Men under 35 haven’t? CPC Bid -30%
  • Another straight forward example – if your British Airways looking to capitalise on festive travel – Bid 100% more for those that have taken business class plane travel with you before – the possibilities really are endless, but ultimately different for every client

Google Shopping

  • A picture is worth a 1,000 words – okay a slightly less common phrase but something that hopefully resonates with the power of mastering this product
  • We’ve long been advocates of this product from Google – it takes a huge amount of science to really get this performing well but once you do it properly it really is game changing for brands
  • Please see this blog post on how to get the best from your shopping accounts

The below are the results taken from a Croud client’s shopping account – we launched on the 7th of July and in under 2 months we took shopping sales from £20k per week to £120k per week.[/text_output][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”5167″][gap size=”1.313em”][text_output]


[/text_output][text_output]Your customers have never been so connected. Smartphones and tablets are everywhere; mobile is now the remote control to shop in the world around us, connecting us wherever we are to your goods and services.

Google 2013 data shows us:[/text_output][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”5165″][text_output]The mobile strategy is quite simply be there, be relevant and be optimised a tagline from Google that sums it up well.

  • In a multi-screen world it’s critical to target your customers where they are, across all the devices they use, to ensure you’re present during the moments that matter – if someone is 200 meters from your shop up-weight bids!
  • Reach the right people with the right message through context-based targeting. Using the right formats and products, in combination with remarketing, can help you deliver targeted ads to different customers to ensure a consistent high ROI
  • Don’t undercount the value you’re getting from your ads. Mobile allows consumers to take action beyond just buying on your website. Make sure that you’re evaluating the full value including calls, cross device conversions, in-store visits, and app downloads

Mobile – When and Where?

[/text_output][text_output]Use location bid adjustments and Location Extensions along with day parting to be at the right place at the right time on the right device or even the right model of phone![/text_output][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”5166″][text_output]

Product Videos

  • Videos are everywhere – YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine – Video can help everything from building a brand to increasing your SEO rankings right through to delivering DR performance
  • Importantly for e-commerce product videos have been shown to help conversion rates for products – more retailers are expected to be using them this year – if you have them put them on product pages or get them produced if budget allows
  • Video is great!!

Product Reviews

  • If you have ever bought something you have not purchased before, or shopped for the same product but from a different store or supplier altogether, unless you have implicit trust in the website, or rely entirely on the opinions of your friends when making purchases, it is likely that you will have looked at reviews before buying

“92% of global consumers say they trust word of mouth and friends and family more than all forms of advertising – Following this, 70% of global consumers said that reviews are their second most trusted form of promotion, an increase of 15% over four years.”

Source: Nielsen, April 2012

Companies like Feefo, Trustpilot and reviews can help you generate Google gold stars and show reviews on your site as well.

Why Do This?

  • According to Google “Adding seller ratings to a search ad can boost CTR by over 17%.” Google Internal Data.
  • From Feefo directly “On The Beach have benefited from a 20% reduction in their PPC costs since using Feefo” and “Your Vegas Wedding have seen a 57% reduction in their PPC costs within two months of joining Feefo.” A no brainer!!
  • Think you will struggle to compete with bigger brands? Not necessarily the case – most people will use amazon at some point but 25% of consumers purchased from someone they had never bought from in the past – here’s where things like reviews/review extensions come into their own


With you and your competitors all looking to stand out on the SERPs this Christmas, giving yourself an edge is a must. Fortunately there are a number of options available for tailoring your ad copy and maximising relevancy and conversion rate before users even make it to the site.

  • Call Out Extensions – Now rolled out globally, call out extensions are quick win for all advertisers, allowing an extra line of ad text to communicate USPs to your customers
  • Form Extensions – Segment users searching on generic terms and stand out from competition at the same time by including a form extension, allowing users to enter data and customise their landing page experience, or even pre-fill a field on a lead capture form on your landing page
  • Ad Customizers – These allow for parameters within your ad to change as directed – with a key example being countdowns to last order date for Christmas delivery!
  • Google Scripts with Ad Params – Take customisation one step further by automating changes to creative using Google Scripts and ad params to allow more flexible control of ad copy in almost real time

Local Inventory Ads

These have recently been released to the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia and should be made the most of. Especially as 83% of shoppers would be more likely to visit a store if they could check availability of an item beforehand.

These ads run on dynamic scripts for stock and locations and are a great addition to any PPC campaign during the festive period.[/text_output][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”5161″][text_output]

Learn From Experience

Finally and very importantly – what does your experience tell you – what lessons did you learn last year? Which of your products we the best sellers – how competitive were your bids – what would you be able to deliver if you optimised to margins rather than CPA?

Look at the data and plan accordingly – a lot of information is there and your account teams should have been thinking about this for the last couple of months – organise a brainstorm to discuss this with all stakeholders – some genius and wisdom will come to light![/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][visibility type=”hidden-desktop”][gap size=”20px”][/visibility][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”ups-sidebar-2″][/vc_column][/vc_row]